Don’t be confused by the introduction, simplified isn’t always that simple. This is a question I hear and get asked about a lot. “How do I get my Hungarian Citizenship?” Well, the answer is, it depends! In this blog post, I want to delve into dual citizenship & Simplified Hungarian Citizenship. There are a few different types.
The easiest and most streamlined path to citizenship is for those who can claim “citizenship by descent.” If you can trace your heritage to Hungary through an ancestor, no matter how distant, you can apply for Hungarian Citizenship. Even if you currently do not live in Hungary, which is where dual citizenship comes into play. The one big thing you have to know is to speak and understand basic Hungarian. I say basic, but sometimes and depending on who is interviewing you, communication on a sufficient level is preferred, and even needed to complete the paperwork on your own.
If one or both of your parents is a Hungarian citizen, you immediately gained Hungarian citizenship at birth, regardless of where you were born, “supposedly”. However, Hungarian law does not automatically provide citizenship to babies who are born on Hungarian soil to foreign parents, except for children who would otherwise be stateless. Having said that, you will also hear me say “supposedly,” a lot. There are many different circumstances or conditions that need to be met. Laws are frequently changing and I highly recommend going to the Hungarian Government/Consulate/state site: Hungarian Citizenship Instructions , to ensure everything is current, before continuing.
Now that we have got that out-of-the-way, we should begin here with the basics….
- Put on your research hat and find all the documentation you will need to prove the principles of jus sanguinis (blood) relationship.
The current Hungarian nationality law came into force in 1993. By changes made in January 2011, every person who was a Hungarian citizen or a descendant of a person who was a Hungarian citizen before 1920 or between 1941 and 1945 and speaks Hungarian may apply to become a Hungarian citizen, even if they do not live in Hungary. Duel Citizenship is permitted under Hungarian law.
- Lets start with your birth certification, in Hungarian or English (or whatever language in the country you live in.) The latter will have to be translated into Hungarian officially. We will get into that later. If you are first generation born in the U.S. like myself for example, start with yourself. Certified copies of the records will have to be obtained. Your birth certification should state the country or place of your parents birth. If you are married, you need your marriage certification too. The consular will charge a fee to translate and/or authenticate these and others into Hungarian. I believe in saying, “the more the merrier.” This means any official, original, genealogical information you can obtain, the better it will go, and I mean immigration records, ship manifests, old passports, land deeds, etc., things connecting you to your parent(s), going backwards. This is kind of where some understanding of the Hungarian language goes a long ways. Eventually when you are ready, you will have to fill out a “Application for Certificate of Citizenship”, to go along with all your papers, for when you meet with the consular. This is only available to be filled out in Hungarian, though English example copies do exist (I will provide an example). Okay here is one of the places it gets kind of confusing for some people. In my situation, my parents were married in the U.S., but they also registered their marriage in Budapest, along with my birth and the same for my siblings. All these birth, death and marriage documents are held in a few locations. The county or church (depending on how old they are) and Budapest in the appropriate districts. Luckily, the consular will look up this information to see if anything is registered in Budapest, if you are applying for your passport/citizenship. You can find copies online through different genealogy sites, or the Hungarian National Archives; that can be authenticated for a fee. The main thing is, all your paperwork has to be registered in Budapest. This is a good place to stop for now, to give you time to gather up the needed paperwork, call the consulate if necessary, and of course please leave your questions and comments, so we can go over a few “details” for your particular situation. I’m not an expert, by any means and it took me about three years to receive my passport and residency card. There were many hiccups, so to speak. Double check all this information at the Hungarian Office of Immigration and Nationality, or with your local embassies/consular. If you like, you can hire a specialist in this area to do this for you, though what fun is that?
In Part Two we will also cover a few specifics relating to present-day Hungary and former Hungarian territory as it affects citizenship…. In the meanwhile I’m including some helpful links and I wanted to mention that Hungary has currently (1950) 19 counties (megyek), and Budapest is divided in 23 districts (keruletek).
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